What is faith?

Faith is the internal assurance you have that what you believe is going to come true will actually come true. It can be based on varying degrees of solid foundations. It can be based on scientific data, myths, suppositions, stories, experiences, or inferences gathered from an assortment of sources that have some credibility to you.

So for example, most people have faith that when they drop a coin, it will fall to the ground and stop abruptly when it finds a surface solid enough and large enough to support it. That is based on scientific facts about gravity and repeated experiences with dropping things…and usually several warnings from childhood that we ought to be careful or else we’ll fall.

Equally, people have faith in the statements of financial advisors who tell them that if they invest in RRSP’s for the long haul, they will produce a return that will fund their retirement. That is based on the data charts they can produce which show long term trends for the past 20 years, and on the personal level of trust they have in the advisor that he is a professional who knows what he is talking about, and, notably, can run quite contrary to market conditions. That is, we can have faith in future outcomes in spite of what we are experiencing in the present.

Equally, we can have faith that if God said he will raise somebody from the dead, he will do it. That might be based on a promise from the Bible, coupled with the historical data surrounding Jesus’ resurrection from the dead, and some modern testimonials like that of Daniel Ekechukwu who was fatally injured in a car accident and several hours later rose from the dead during a church meeting.

Faith is that internal resource that moves us forward to act in accord with what we believe to be true, trusting in the outcome that is the object of belief.

How does faith relate to God?

No matter how we define, or understand God, or reject or are indifferent about his existence, it all expresses ‘faith’ because we are dealing with a belief structure that assumes outcomes to our actions. If we say, ‘God doesn’t exist’ we have expressed faith. We can’t see into any spiritual realm that might exist, so we can’t say, definitely based on observable facts, ‘There is no God.’ There are presuppositions (beliefs) at work in us that are the substance of our faith that life does not have God as a reference point or a point of accountability. We believe we are on our own, setting our own course, nurturing our own truth, and living our own definition of success and so we act in accord with that belief structure towards assumed outcomes to our life (like material success, sexual satisfaction, meaningful living).

So even in saying, ‘There is no God,’ we are expressing a measure of faith about things pertaining to God – ‘He does not exist.’

The question, as with all faith, is, ‘Is the evidence and/or belief system substantial enough to place our faith in it?’

There is a story about two farmers who were near neighbours in the days of horse and buggy. In the summer time they’d race each other to town to see who could pick the shortest route, or find some edge to get to the General Store first. All routes had to go around the lake. Then one of several branches could be chosen, each with varying distances and types of terrain. So one winter, as they were approaching the lake coming from town along different routes, they wound up neck and neck as the different forks merged into the one road around the lake. One of the farmers decided he would be sly and take a short cut across the lake which was now frozen over. So the one farmer eased left around the lakeside road, while the smart guy, chuckling to himself, headed for the shoreline. He was doing fine until he got fifty feet from shore and the ice, which had looked and felt solid, suddenly gave way. He and the horses fell into the freezing water. He was barely rescued by the other farmer who saw what happened and gingerly went out on the ice with a piece of rope to haul him out.

The story simply points out that whatever we believe about God, it is wise to make sure that our faith is based upon something substantial enough to support the weight of all we will face in life and death. A false belief system, or wrong presuppositions about God, can produce a faith that will prove unable to support life as we journey through it and face death at the end of it. What looks safe and solid, doesn’t always prove to be once we put the weight of life or death upon it. The beliefs we have about God should have substance enough to get us all the way through, or else they are not worth placing our faith in.

More to come...

  • How does faith relate to the Bible?
  • How can you know the ‘right’ way or the ‘right’ religion, if there is such a thing?
  • Who is Jesus Christ and why does he matter? What is truth?
  • How can I know what you say is true is actually true?
  • I have some issues, so solve this one for me:
    • Why do you assume there aren’t many ways to God?
    • Why does God seem to allow so much suffering if He really cares about us?
    • Are heaven, hell, angels and demons for real?
    • What about people who never learn about Jesus then, are you saying they automatically
    • What does God say about sex?